Finding the Source of Your Energy

I’m just home from a big convention and I’m excited. I have a huge stack of ideas I want to follow up on and plenty of energy to do so with. I went with a friend, however, who will be spending the entire day after (and maybe a few days to come) recovering from all the energy it took her to get through the exact same weekend.

It’s a question of what energizes each of us. I draw energy from being around people and if I go too long between getting out of the office, I can wind up with some pretty lackluster work. My pal, on the other hand, draws her energy from being alone with herself and has to plan plenty of time away from the world in order to keep her creativity up. It’s the classic comparison of an introvert and an extrovert.

When you need your creativity energy to do your work to the best of your ability, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what your energy really draws on. It can be a more complex question of whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, as well. It may not be just alone time that you need to recharge — it can be particular types of alone time.

Experimenting with Your Energy Level

For quite a while, I considered myself to be more of an introvert: I don’t actually work well when other people around. But it took me some experimentation to learn more about what makes me tick — it simply wasn’t as self-evident as I would have liked it to be.

The reason I don’t work well when I’ve got other people around is because I want to talk to them — I want that interaction when it’s available. I might have work that is a higher priority, but I still want to do other things, like have a really great conversation. Other people are, simply, a distraction for me when I’m working.

But when I first started working from home, I’d go into all-out-hermit mode for days at a time. By the end of those days, I was going out to dinner just to have some interaction. Ordering meals was the only activity between me and going just a little bit crazy. I started noticing that I simply felt better after getting out of the house. I had better ideas after talking to other people. The quality of my work was better when I went to big events and talked to everyone in the room. It took me a while to figure out the details, but I like conferences and conventions. I like meeting new people and having really in-depth discussions. All of that is necessary for me to keep on working.

Finding Balance with Your Needs

There are days when I feel like I should be out at every single event I can go to, invited or not. But since I do actually need to get some work done at some point, I’ve had to find some balance. I still don’t have it perfectly figured out: I’ve put myself in tough spots in terms of work just to go places and talk to people and I’ve made myself a little insane by sticking to my desk even when I really need to get out. But I’m getting better at finding balance.

I’ve built in some pressure release valves for my schedule. Once a week, whether I need it or not, I have dinner with friends. I’ve tried different approaches to my schedule and I’m always tweaking things.

What energizes you? How do you keep your energy in balance with your schedule?

Image by Flickr user Alice Popkorn

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2 Responses to “ Finding the Source of Your Energy ”

  1. Travis says:

    I completely identify with your introvert –> extrovert conversion. While I unquestionably work best alone, I have learned from experience that living too long in that state is deeply unsatisfying. Tony Robbins says, “the quality of our lives is the quality of our relationships.” Very true.

    I am energized by a dynamic balance between private work and new social experiences. The more deeply I go into each one, the more I enjoy the other. After working hard in solitude for close to a month, spending a weekend at a music festival with a friend was absolute joy.

    Conversely, after spending a few days on vacation, nothing feels better than getting back to my personal work.

    And so the balancing act goes, on and on.

    Great post.

  2. I too find that I can’t stay inside for days at a time and still be able to focus. I need to get out and interact with others to relax and get out of focused mode and into brainstorming mode. I find when I’m having a good discussion with others, ideas flow more easily. I can move the ideas all over the place but when I’m sitting down in front of the computer I can’t move around so easily. On the other hand, it’s sitting in front of the computer lends itself to completing a list of tasks.

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